Updates From Artsakh: The Battle for Peace

ocotber13 update


One of the most intense battles since the beginning of the war took place today along the northern direction of the front line in Artsakh, according to Ministry of Defense representative Artsrun Hovhannisyan. As the war rages on, the Defense Army of Artsakh issued a statement that the political-military leadership of Azerbaijan, by continually shelling civilian settlements is violating international humanitarian rights, international human rights law and the norms and principles of customary international law.

In the meantime, Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan signed a draft bill which was unanimously passed by Parliament that will regulate the voluntary participation of a civilian militia and aims to strengthen the protection of the Republic’s borders. Harutyunyan said it was a necessary move, taking into consideration that “both Turkey and thousands of mercenaries and terrorists are taking part in the war unleashed against us by the enemy.”

While battles were taking place, Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to discuss the situation in the conflict zone. Mnatsakanyan said that, despite the October 10 joint ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan is not fulfilling its commitment and continues large-scale military operations, deliberately targeting civilian populations and infrastructure. Mnatsakanyan also stressed the need for on-site verification systems as one way to achieve and strengthen the ceasefire regime. Following the meeting, the Co-Chairs issued a statement.

Here is a chronology of official updates.

Azerbaijani Forces Intensify Military Operations

9:10 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Army reported that, throughout the night, the situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijani conflict zone remained relatively intense.

In the morning, Azerbaijani forces resumed military operations accompanied by artillery fire in the southern, northern, northeastern and eastern directions. The adversary is particularly active in the northeastern area of the frontline.

The Artsakh Defense Army is taking appropriate countermeasures in all directions to silence Azerbaijani fire.

9:35 a.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Armenian Ministry of Defense, announced that Azerbaijani forces have launched offensives in all directions of the Line of Contact in the morning.

10:40 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry released the names of another 16 servicemen who were killed on the battlefield.

Yeranosyan, Garegin [Artushi], b. 1982
Hambardzumyan, Hakob [Smbati], b. 1996
Khachatryan, Hrayr [Suriki], b. 1981
Avetisyan, Khachik [Levoni], b. 1981
Janoyan, Melik [Zoriki], b. 1993
Dadoyan, Marat [Zohraki], b. 2002
Ochinyan, Arman [Ararati], b. 1999
Harutyunyan, Gevorg [Gagiki], b. 2001
Karapetyan, Karen [Movsesi], b. 2001
Mesropyan, Argishti [Sashayi], b. 2000
Poghosyan, Ghukas [Samveli], b. 1990
Tsatryan, Karen [Seryozhayi], b. 1977
Hovhannisyan, Narek [Vachagani], b. 1992
Grigoryan, Khazhak [Formiki], b. 1973 (volunteer)
Karapetyan, Vardan [Frunzi], b. 1984 (volunteer)
Torosyan, Radik [Papini], b. 1967 (volunteer)

10:55 p.m.: Anna Naghdalyan, the spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced that while on his official visit to Russia, Foreign Affairs Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan is having a meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.


Azerbaijan Continues Shelling Civilian Settlements in Artsakh

11:05 a.m. Vahram Poghosyan, the spokesperson of the President of Artsakh, said that the situation has been intense in the cities of Askeran, Martuni and Martakert. Azerbaijan continues to shell civilian settlements in Artsakh, violating the humanitarian ceasefire that was declared on October 10.

Civilian objects have been targeted and one apartment was burned in Martakert. No casualties have been reported.

11:55 a.m.: Vahram Poghosyan, the spokesperson of the President of Artsakh, said that Azerbaijan continues violating the humanitarian ceasefire agreement and, since the early morning, has launched large-scale offensives along the entire length of the Line of Contact. Peaceful settlements are being shelled by artillery. Several thousand mercenaries and terrorists are actively involved in the military operations as part of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. The Artsakh Defense Army is engaged in heavy fighting to repel the offensive of the Azerbaijani forces. “We must do everything possible to inflict significant losses to the adversary that is armed to its teeth and to ensure victory in this patriotic war,” he said.


Regulating the Voluntary Participation of a Civilian Militia

1 p.m. Arayik Harutyunyan, President of Artsakh issued the following statement:

Dear compatriots,

I have just signed a draft bill to make amendments to the Law on Defense of the Republic of Artsakh, which was unanimously passed by the Parliament earlier today. The bill was submitted to the National Assembly on my initiative and will regulate the voluntary participation of the civilian militia in the defense of our Republic.

The need for the adoption of the law stems from the current war and aims to further strengthen the protection of our borders together with the Defense Army. Both Turkey and thousands of mercenaries and terrorists are taking part in the war unleashed against us by the enemy.

At this crucial moment of the sacred patriotic war, I once again call on our people to unite and make every effort to achieve a final victory. Individual participation is important to break the backbone of the enemy and push them back from our borders.

We will win and we will ensure that future generations live in peace and security in our own Homeland.

Time to get to work...


Artsakh Defense Army: Azerbaijan Committing War Crimes

3:35 p.m.:  Artsakh’s Defense Army issued the following statement:

The large-scale war unleashed by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan on September 27 still continues to this day, along with several violations by the Azerbaijani side of international humanitarian rights, international human rights law and norms and principles of customary international law (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, customary international law, etc.).

At the same time, in order to cover up or justify its war crimes, as well as to prepare ground for launching new attacks on the peaceful civilian population, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan is resorting to misinformation campaign, falsely accusing not only the military-political leadership of Artsakh, but also the Armenian authorities.

The people of Artsakh are fully determined to defend the security of their homeland and their people, as well as to hold the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan accountable for its war crimes and for turning our region into a hotbed of international terrorism.

Creation of Civilian Militias Currently Underway in Artsakh

8:50 p.m.: Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan issued the following statement:

Dear Compatriots,

Today I visited the regional center of Askeran and discussed with the regional leadership the participation of civilian militias in hostilities. The head of the district administration reported that the population has a high awareness of their responsibility, and the work on the formation of volunteer units is being carried out properly.

Following the example of Askeran, the process of creating civilian militia units is currently underway in all regions of the Republic.

In the coming hours and days, the Defense Army will be replenished with our citizens, who have a wealth of experience and knowledge of war and professional military service, whose participation, I am sure, will significantly contribute to the increase in the effectiveness of our troops' actions on the battlefield.

9:50 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense wrote the following on his Facebook page: Today, very heavy battles were fought in the northern direction, one of the heaviest battles of this war, during which the Armenian army proved that it is unbreakable. Today, the Armenian soldier, reservist and civilian militia performed miracles.


Artsrun Hovhannisyan, Ministry of Defense Live Press Briefing

10 p.m.: During a live press conference, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said that from early morning, Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched a large-scale offensive along the entire length of the front line. Battles have been especially intense in the northern direction where artillery and armored vehicles were used by the adversary. According to Hovhannisyan, the northern battles have been one of the heaviest ones fought during this war. The Defense Army successfully pushed back the adversary causing them significant losses. “Due to the coordinated efforts and heroic acts of the Defense Army, Armenian soldiers, reservists and the civilian militia it was possible to suspend the Azerbaijani offensive,” he said. Military operations continued in all of the remaining directions as well, however, Azerbaijani forces were not able to register any successes. Hovhannisyan noted that over the last several days, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces adopted a new tactic by which they launched quick infiltration operations in a number of settlements near the front line, raising the Azerbaijani flag on buildings, taking pictures to psychologically influence people not only in Azerbaijan but also in Armenia. He went on to explain that because the adversary has not registered any significant successes on the battlefield, such information campaigns are a way to divert the attention of the Azerbaijani public. 

Romela Abovyan, a senior official from the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention spoke next and called on Armenians to exercise vigilance in the fight against COVID-19. 

Abovyan said that COVID-19 numbers have dramatically risen recently. Since the outbreak of the war (last 14 days), the number of cases has increased by almost 113%. She said that because of the situation in the country, the population is concentrated on “fighting the enemy” but that people shouldn’t forget that there is “an invisible enemy.” It’s obvious that these numbers are a result of non-compliance with safety guidelines. Abovyan urged people to follow the three safety rules: wearing a mask, washing hands and physical distancing. Acknowledging the unity and the importance of numerous volunteer initiatives to collect goods for the soldiers and displaced families, Abovyan said that people are not following the guidelines during these drives, which can potentially result in the spread of the virus that doesn’t recognize borders. She warned that it can reach the soldiers in the army, impacting their health and the condition of the armed forces. “This is a call for vigilance and sobriety. We are a strong nation and we can together fight this pandemic. Everyone can fight in their own way and encourage others so they follow the rules,” she said.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan Meets With OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs

Within the framework of his official visit to the Russian Federation, Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs as well as the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.

The Foreign Minister and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs discussed the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. Mnatsakanyan stressed that, despite the October 10 joint ceasefire agreement that was reached at the ministerial level, Azerbaijan is not fulfilling its commitment and continues large-scale military operations, deliberately targeting civilian populations and infrastructure.

The Minister also stressed the need for on-site verification systems as one way to achieve and strengthen the ceasefire regime. The sides summarized the work done within the framework of the peace settlement process.


Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) released the following statement today:

The Co-Chairs note with alarm the continuing violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Co-Chairs call on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to take immediate steps to execute in full the obligations of the sides according to the October 10 Moscow statement, in order to prevent catastrophic consequences for the region.

The Co-Chairs reiterate that civilian casualties are unacceptable under any circumstances. The Co-Chairs call on the sides to implement the humanitarian ceasefire immediately to allow the return of remains, prisoners of war and detainees, and appeal to the sides to agree urgently upon a ceasefire verification mechanism.

Following conversations with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, the Co-Chairs are working with the sides on the substantive issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh political settlement process in order to reach a negotiated solution.


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighs in on the conflict: 


Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Statement by Martin Schüepp, ICRC Eurasia Regional Director

Today, we are more than two weeks into a period of intense violence as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalates. We estimate there are hundreds of thousands of people affected across the region.

Civilians are dying or suffering life-changing injuries. Homes, businesses and once-busy streets are being reduced to rubble. The elderly and babies are among those forced to spend hours in unheated basements or to leave their homes for safety.

On top of this, healthcare facilities, health workers and ambulance services are straining to cope or even suffering reported direct attacks in places. There is upheaval, loss and fear in communities on both sides of the Line of Contact.

It is our deep hope that the humanitarian ceasefire agreement will be abided by and will translate into meaningful relief for these people.

As such, the International Committee of the Red Cross remains ready to facilitate the handover of bodies of those killed in action and the release of detainees. The sides must agree on a format between themselves. We are in continuous discussions with them, passing proposals back and forth. Operational and logistical arrangements must be in place, and the safety of our teams guaranteed, for the operation to begin.

We are not involved in the political negotiations. Our role is strictly humanitarian, as a neutral intermediary. We have long-standing experience of this in conflicts worldwide.

In terms of our response, we are working in the region to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in this.

We are distributing emergency cash assistance and hygiene kits to hundreds of families, providing emergency medical kits to hospitals and forensic support to authorities, and doing field assessments where we can.

And we are working closely with the Armenian Red Cross and the Azerbaijani Red Crescent as they respond to this emergency.

We project that at least tens of thousands of people across the region will need support over the next few months.

To this end, we have issued an emergency appeal of an additional 9.2 million Swiss Francs and have already started to receive generous donations from governments, for which we are very grateful.

I will leave you with the experience of one mother who spoke to us – she described how as a child she sheltered in basements and spent nights in the forest to escape the fighting. Almost 30 years later, she is once again forced to do the same thing, this time with her little daughter – barely 2 years old – and her elderly parents, who had once protected her all those years ago.

There are many more like her and for all their sakes we must be there to support and facilitate meaningful humanitarian action where we can.

October 12

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Meets With Foreign Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations

PM Nikol Pashinyan met with the heads of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited in the Republic of Armenia. He gave details of the hostilities launched by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh, highlighting Turkey’s direct involvement in it.

The PM stressed Azerbaijan attacked in the direction of Nagorno-Karabakh, despite the principle that use of force or the threat of force is unacceptable in the context of the resolution of the Karabakh issue. He went on to say that the war would not have begun had there not been full readiness shown by and full engagement of Turkey. Pashinyan mentioned that the hostilities began as a continuation of the Turkish-Azerbaijani joint military exercise and that Turkey’s engagement in the war is public knowledge, supported by not only the evidence shared by the Armenian side but also by public statements. The PM stressed that Turkey also coordinated the recruitment and transfer of mercenaries and terrorist groups to Azerbaijan.

“A hundred years later, why is Turkey in the South Caucasus? Why has it come to the South Caucasus? It is our assessment that Turkey has come to the South Caucasus to continue the policy of Genocide against the Armenian people. I want to emphasize once again—the purpose of that policy is not emotional or one in the context of historical retaliation. It is a very practical one.

It is quite obvious to me that this is a part of Turkey’s expansionist policies, because the Armenians in the South Caucasus are the last remaining obstacle on Turkey’s path towards the East, the North and the Southeast. And at least to me, it is quite obvious that what is happening must be viewed in the context of what is happening in the Mediterranean, in Syria, in Iraq, as well as the relationship with Greece, with Cyprus. It is a part of the context of Turkey’s policies in the mentioned areas. This is clearly a policy of reinstating the Turkish Empire.

The hostilities and their nature once again have demonstrated that the Armenian people, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are facing an existential threat, and the policy of shelling towns and villages in Nagorno-Karabakh is compared to the policy of hate that has been promoted in Azerbaijan for fifteen years.

It becomes obvious that Azerbaijan’s official political objective is to annihilate the Armenians, at least in Nagorno-Karabakh. And I think the most important symbol of this is the Ramil Safarov case, which I hope all of you know details of, so I will spare you the details of that case.”

Essentially, in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, we are very close to a humanitarian crisis or perhaps we are already facing a humanitarian crisis. Our assessment is that this humanitarian crisis can be prevented in only one effective way: if the international community officially acknowledges the aforementioned facts and eventually recognizes the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination, to the point of even recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.

I wish also to turn to the Azerbaijani side's claims that the Armenian side is allegedly targeting civilian infrastructure in Azerbaijan, etc.

The Artsakh Defense Army took the decision to act in the direction of any town or village after it became obvious that it was impossible in any other way to stop the rocket attacks on Stepanakert and on other towns and villages.

Let us watch a video which shows what attacks had been launched since the beginning of the war on Stepanakert, the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh. But before turning to the video, I would like to highlight a fact that you all may be aware of: that is, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin made a public appeal, after which the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia took part in the adoption of the statement on a ceasefire. But the ceasefire has so far not been respected by Azerbaijan.

The ceasefire was supposed to enter into effect at noon, 12 o'clock p.m., but before the de jure entry into force of the ceasefire agreement up to the point, there were intensive hostilities by Azerbaijan, which is contrary to the logic of the ceasefire agreement. At 12:05, Azerbaijan started an attack, an offensive on the territory of the Autonomous District of Nagorno-Karabakh and attempted to conquer the town of Hadrut. Right now, there are military operations in the vicinity of Hadrut.

The Artsakh Defense Army forces are trying to drive out the sabotage groups, which attempted to seize Hadrut. The situation is tense, especially in the southern segment; we actually didn't manage to achieve a ceasefire, although the Armenian side is ready to comply with the ceasefire.

We signed to conform to our intention, and we are committed to our intention - point one, point two - on the ceasefire, on humanitarian actions and on the start of negotiations with the unchanged format of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.”

During the meeting, the heads of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations were shown a video on the military operations carried out by Azerbaijan against peaceful settlements and civilian infrastructure in Nagorno-Karabakh.

After watching the video footage, the Armenian Prime Minister called the attendees’ attention to the fact that the video featured neither military infrastructure nor any military personnel on the ground, which shows that this was a clearly deliberate strike against peaceful settlements and civilian infrastructure.

“My assessment is unequivocal: The Armenians are trying to quell the threat of genocide faced in this war,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

The Premier thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron as the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing nations who are making every effort to halt violence. Nikol Pashinyan also thanked the U.S. administration and President Donald Trump for urging an end to hostilities.

“We expect the co-chairing nations to continue their efforts. We are prepared to be constructive in this process. But we think that the resumption of the negotiation process should take place in accordance with the logic formulated in the Moscow statement,” Nikol Pashinyan emphasized.

The Prime Minister also thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Austria’s Chancellor, and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with whom he had a telephone conversation and exchanged views on the situation.

The Premier highly valued the positions expressed by the Prime Ministers of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus during the EAEU Intergovernmental Council meeting, which was held in Yerevan on October 9. He hailed the fact of their coming to Yerevan and attending the scheduled meeting in this difficult situation.

In conclusion, Nikol Pashinyan thanked all the partners who have shown keen interest in establishing peace and stability in the region.


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